The past two years have seen a dramatic decrease in travel spend across most organizations, down by as much as 90% from pre-pandemic levels for some companies. Despite the recent impact of the omicron variant, that looks likely to change as organizations move forward with plans to resume or accelerate business travel.
According to a January 2022 poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), three in four travel managers expect their company’s business travel volumes to be much (17%) or somewhat (58%) higher in 2022 than in 2021.
While this comes as a welcome change for many long-dormant business travelers and road warriors, program managers and procurement professionals will need to make sure they’re putting in place strong cost-controls to boost program efficiency as travel reopens.
Here are three ways to get started:
1. Minimize lost fares via smart credit management.
For some large organizations, unused flight credits from canceled trips in 2020 and 2021 account for millions of leftover dollars. Even for smaller programs, these credits can still be a headache.
Moving forward, travel managers should ask their online booking tool provider about the ability to change individual itinerary elements before or after tickets are issued. Plans change. How are canceled flight purchases that qualify for unused ticket credits stored and used for the future? By automatically applying unused tickets and credits to the next booking within the booking flow, companies can reduce the risk of lost fares.
2. Get a handle on spend through approved trip budgets.
For several years, the debate on travel approvals was whether they should be pre-trip or post-trip. New, more sophisticated technology offerings instead empower companies to to configure maximum spend amounts on business travel in the booking tool. By doing so, it limits the approval only to situations where total cost of air, hotel or car booking exceeds the spend amount.
Trip budgets can be configured based on policy type, policy category and traveler profile. By using trip budgets and pre-approval of air, hotel and rental car spend, travel managers gain enhanced visibility and control over total travel expenses and companies move to a more efficient mode of managing spend.
3. Reduce out-of-policy bookings.
There have always been advantages to minimizing “leakage” or out-of-policy travel expenses. Companies gain greater visibility into total program spend, enhance their negotiating power with suppliers, decrease duty of care risks, and reduce fraud.
A key to cutting program leakage is building a business travel offering employees actually want to use. By pulling content direct from suppliers, as well as from NDC, GDS and hotel content aggregators, travelers enjoy greater choice and are more likely to book in policy. Working with an online booking tool that allows travelers or travel arrangers to review flight, accommodation and transport details the same way they would using a supplier website also helps them make more informed decisions during the booking process.
With the return to travel comes the opportunity to conduct business in-person — something many organizations have been missing in a virtual-only environment. Nevertheless, travel managers should use this time to ensure their companies come back leaner than ever before.